Female names of literary origin, N-Z

U.S. actor Norma Shearer, 1902–1983

Nélida was created by French writer Marie d’Agoult for her semi-autobiographical 1846 novel of the same name, which she wrote under the pseudonym Daniel Stern. It’s probably an anagram of the pen name Daniel.

Nestan-Darejan was created by great Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for the famous 12th century national epic The Knight in the Panther’s Skin (lit. One with the Skin of a Tiger). He coined it from Persian phrase nist andar jahan, “unlike any other in the world.” Nestan-Darejan is a princess.

Norma is the protagonist of Italian writer Felice Romani’s 1831 opera of the same name, possibly based on Latin norma (rule). It may also have been intended as a feminine form of Ancient Germanic name Norman (northman; i.e., Viking).

Nydia is a blind flower seller in British writer Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s 1834 novel The Last Days of Pompeii, which was later made into an Italian silent film. It may be based on Latin nidus (nest).

Ophelia as depicted inThe girlhood of Shakespeare’s heroines in a series of tales, 1881

Ophelia was probably created by 15th century Italian poet Jacopo Sannazaro for a character in his poem Arcadia, then later used by Shakespeare in 1600’s Hamlet. It derives from Greek ophelos (help).

Ornella was created by Italian writer Gabriele d’Annunzio for the 1904 novel La Figlia di Jorio (The Daughter of Jorio), derived from Tuscan ornello (flowering ash tree).

Pamela was created by English poet Sir Philip Sydney for the 16th century long pastoral romance poem The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia, possibly intended to mean “all sweetness,” from Greek pan (all) and meli (honey). This name exploded in popularity during the 1940s and stayed on the U.S. Top 100 till 1976.

Perdita was created by Shakespeare for his 1610 play A Winter’s Tale, from Latin perditus (lost).

Pippi was created by Karin Lindgren, daughter of Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren, for the title character of the Pippi Longstocking series. The first book was published in 1945. Her full name is Pippilotta.

Ronja was created by Astrid Lindgren for Ronja the Robber’s Daughter (1981), derived from Juronjaure, a Swedish lake.

Sandra was introduced to the Anglophone world by English writer George Meredith, who used it on the protagonist of his 1864 novel Emilia in England, reissued in 1887 as Sandra Belloni.

Scarlett, from a surname originally bestowed upon sellers or makers of scarlet cloth, possibly derives from Persian saghrilat. Just about everyone knows Scarlett came to attention as a forename thanks to the protagonist of Margaret Mitchell’s historical saga Gone with the Wind (1936).

Stella means “star” in Latin. This name was created by Sir Philip Sidney for the protagonist of his 1580s sonnet collection Astrophel and Stella.

Tímea was created by Hungarian writer Mór Jókai for his 1873 novel The Golden Man, probably derived from Greek euthymia (good spirits, cheerfulness).

Tinatin was created by aforementioned Georgian poet Shota Rustaveli for The Knight in the Panther’s Skin, possibly derived from Georgian word sinatle (light). Tinatin is the Queen of Arabia, and inherits the throne as the sole child of King Rostevan.

Titania was possibly created by Shakespeare for his 1595 play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which Titania is Queen of the Fairies. It may derive from Latin name Titanius (of the Titans).

Tünde was created by Hungarian writer Mihály Vörösmarty for his 1830 play Csongor és Tünde, derived from tündér (fairy).

Undine was created by Medieval writer Paracelsus, derived from Latin unda (wave). He used it to refer to female water spirits.

Detail of The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania, Joseph Noel Patton, 1849

Valmai means “like May” in Welsh. It was created by Welsh writer Allen Raine for her 1899 romance novel By Berwen Banks. Allen Raine was the understandable pseudonym of Anne Adalisa Beynon Puddicombe.

Vanessa was created by British writer Jonathan Swift for his 1726 poem Cadenus and Vanessa, derived from rearranging the first syllables of the name of his friend Esther Vanhomrigh.

Veslemøy means “little girl” in Norwegian. It was created by writer Arne Garborg for the title character of his 1895 poem Haugtussa.

Viviette was created by British writer William John Locke for the title character of his 1910 novel. It’s a diminutive of Vivienne (alive).

Wendy was created by Scottish writer J.M. Barrie for his famous 1904 play Peter Pan, derived from his nickname Fwendy (i.e., Friend). Prior to Peter Pan, it was rarely used as a possible nickname for Welsh names starting with Gwen (blessed, fair, white).

Zerbinette was created by French writer Molière for his 1671 play Les Fourberies de Scapin (The Deceits of Scapin).

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Birth order names

I’ve always loved birth order names like Quintina and Octavia, though most people no longer have such large families, nor do they use birth order names very often in most cultures. For whatever reason, Quint- names seem the most common.

Unless otherwise noted, names ending in A and E are feminine; names ending in O, U, and consonants are masculine. U means “unisex.”

First:

Abaka means “firstborn” in Akan.

Adi (M) is Indonesian.

Baako (U) means “firstborn child” in Akan.

Berko means “firstborn” in Akan.

Eka (U) means “first, one” in Indonesian.

Ensio is Finnish.

İlkın is Azeri and Turkish.

Mosi (M) is Swahili.

Parvan is Bulgarian.

Prim is Russian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian.

Prima is Italian and Latin.

Primiano is Italian and Spanish.

Primien is French.

Primo is Italian.

Primož is Slovenian.

Primula means “very first” in Latin.

Primus is Latin.

Proteus is Greek.

Una is Latin. I love this name for an only child.

Second:

Duri (U) means “two” in Korean.

Dwi (U) means “two, second” in Indonesian.

Secunda/Secundus is Latin.

Segunda/Segundo is Spanish, Portuguese, and Galician.

Third:

Fereydoun is Persian.

Kunto (F) means “third child” in Akan. For obvious reasons, I would NOT recommend this in an Anglophone country!

Tercera/Tercero is Spanish.

Tércia/Tércio is Portuguese.

Tertia/Tertius is Latin.

Terza/Terzo is Italian.

Tri (U) means “three, third” in Indonesian.

Fourth:

Anan (U) means “fourth-born child” in Akan.

Catur means “fourth child” in Indonesian.

Raabi’a is Arabic.

Pompey is Latin, probably derived from a Sabellic word meaning “four.”

Quadrado is Portuguese.

Quadrat is French.

Quadrato is Italian.

Quadressa may very well be my own invention!

Quarta is Latin.

Quartilla is Latin.

Quartino is Italian.

Quarto is Italian.

Quartus is Latin.

Fifth:

Enu (U) means “fifth-born child” in Akan.

Quentin is English and French.

Quincia is Spanish and English. The alternate form Quincià is Catalan.

Quinciana/Quinciano is Spanish.

Quincio is Spanish. The alternate form Quíncio is Portuguese.

Quinta is Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Latin, Dutch, and English.

Quintana is English.

Quintavia might be my own invention too!

Quintessa is English.

Quintí (M) is Catalan.

Quintia is Latin and Dutch.

Quintiaan is Dutch.

Quintian is German and English.

Quintien/Quintienne is French.

Quintil is Occitan, French, and Catalan.

Quintila/Quintilo is Spanish and Portuguese.

Quintilio is Spanish and Italian.

Quintilla is Italian, English, Dutch, Afrikaans, and Latin.

Quintillia is English.

Quintillo is Italian.

Quintillu is Sardinian.

Quintijn is Dutch.

Quintina is Latin and English.

Quintinien is French.

Quintinu is Corsican.

Quinto is Italian.

Quintu is Corsican and Sicilian.

Quintus is Latin.

Quinzia/Quinzio is Italian.

Sixth:

Nsia (U) means “sixth-born child” in Akan.

Sesta/Sesto is Italian.

Sextus/Sixta is Latin.

Sixte (M) is French.

Sixtina is Latin, German, Dutch, and Latin American–Spanish.

Sixtine is French.

Sixto is Spanish.

Sixtus is Latin, though it’s truly derived from the Greek name Xystos (polished, scraped). It’s additionally considered to mean “sixth” because it was borne by the sixth pope after St. Peter.

Seventh:

Nsonowa (U) means “seventh-born child” in Akan.

Septima is Latin. The rare alternate form Septíma is Icelandic.

Septime is French.

Septimia is Romanian.

Septimio is Spanish and Portuguese.

Septimus is Latin.

Settima/Settimo is Italian.

Eighth:

Awotwi (U) means “eighth-born child” in Akan.

Octaaf is Dutch and Flemish.

Octave (M) is French.

Octavi (M) is Catalan.

Octavia is Latin, Spanish, and English. The alternate form Octávia is Portuguese, and Octàvia is Catalan and Occitan. I adore this name!

Octavian is Romanian.

Octaviana is Latin and Spanish.

Octaviano is Spanish.

Octavianus is Latin.

Octavie is French and Luxembourgish.

Octavien/Octavienne is French.

Octavio is Spanish. The alternate form Octávio is Portuguese.

Octavius is Latin.

Oktáv is Hungarian.

Oktavia is German. The alternate form Oktávia is Hungarian, and Oktavía is Icelandic.

Oktávián is Hungarian.

Oktavianas is Lithuanian.

Oktavijan is Croatian.

Oktavije is Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian.

Oktavijus is Lithuanian.

Oktavíus is Icelandic.

Oktaviy is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian.

Oktaviya is Russian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian.

Oktawia/Oktawius is Polish.

Otávia/Otávio is Brazilian–Portuguese.

Ottavia, Ottaviana, Ottaviano, and Ottavio are Italian.

Ninth:

Nkruma (U) means “ninth-born child” in Akan.

Nona is Latin and English.

Nonius/Nonia is Latin.

Noniana/Noniano is Italian.

Nonio is Spanish and Italian.

Nonus is Latin.

Novena is Spanish.

Nuno is Portuguese and Spanish. The alternate form Nuño is Medieval Spanish.

Tenth:

Decia is Italian.

Decima is Latin. If you’re wondering, the word “decimate” indeed comes from the Latin word for “ten.” When Romans killed their enemies, they put them in a line and beheaded every tenth one.

Decimo is Italian. The alternate form Décimo is Spanish and Portuguese.

Decimus is Latin.

Décio is Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.

Eleventh:

Dubaku (U) means “eleventh-born child” in Akan.

Duku (U) means “eleventh-born” in Akan.

Miscellaneous:

Achan means “female child in the first pair of twins” in Dinka.

Afafa means “the first child of the second husband” in Ewe.

Aino (F) means “the only one” in Finnish.

Akpan means “firstborn son” in Ibibio.

Alaba means “second child after twins” in Yoruba.

Babirye (F) means “first of twins” in Luganda.

Buyon is the traditional Batonu name for a fourth-born daughter.

Gorou means “five son” in Japanese, traditionally given to fifth sons.

Hachirou means “eight son” in Japanese, traditionally given to eighth sons.

Ichirou means “one son” in Japanese, traditionally given to firstborn sons.

Isingoma (M) means “first of twins” in Luganda.

Jirou means “two son” in Japanese, traditionally given to secondborn sons.

Juurou means “ten son” in Japanese, traditionally given to tenth sons.

Kato (M) means “second of twins” in Luganda.

Kurou means “nine son” in Japanese, traditionally given to ninth sons.

Nakato (M) means “second of twins” in Luganda.

Prvul means “firstborn son” in Vlach.

Rokurou means “six son” in Japanese, traditionally given to sixth sons.

Saburo means “three son” in Japanese, traditionally given to third sons.

Shirou means “four son” in Japanese, traditionally given to fourth sons.

Wasswa (M) means “first of twins” in Luganda.

Winona means “firstborn daughter” in Dakota.

Xwm (SIM) means “second son” in Hmong.

Slavic flower names

As promised, here’s a list of Slavic names primarily beginning with the roots Cvet-, Kvet-, and Tsvet-. This element means “flower” in the Slavic languages.

Female:

Cveta is Serbian.

Cvetana is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvetka is Slovenian.

Cvijeta is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvijetka, Cvita, Cvitana, and Cvitka are Croatian.

Cvjetana is Serbian and Croatian.

Cvjetislava means “flower glory” in Croatian. Another form is Cvjetoslava.

Cvjetka is Serbian and Croatian.

Květa is Czech, and Kveta is Slovak. This can either be a nickname or full name.

Květoslava means “flower glory” in Czech. The Slovak form is Kvetoslava. Květuše is a Czech diminutive.

Kvitoslava is Ukrainian.

Tsveta, Tsvetana, and Tsvetelina are Bulgarian. A nickname is Tsvetanka.

Tsvetomira means “flower peace” and “flower world” in Bulgarian, though the first element may also derive from tsvyat (colour) and thus mean “colour of peace.”

Male:

Cvetan and Cvetin are Macedonian, Serbian, and Croatian.

Cvetko is Slovenian.

Cvijetko, Cvijeto, Cvitan, and Cvitko are Croatian.

Cvjetan and Cvjetko are Serbian and Croatian.

Cvjetislav is Croatian. Another form is Cvjetoslav.

Květoslav is Czech. The Slovak form is Kvetoslav.

Kvitoslav is Ukrainian.

Tsvetan and Tsvetko are Bulgarian.

Tsvetomir means “flower peace” and “flower world” in Bulgarian.

The Ts of Slavic names

Male:

Taras is the Ukrainian and Russian form of the Greek name Tarasios (from Taras). Taras Shevchenko (1814–61) is one of Ukraine’s great national writers and heroes.

Tibor is the Czech, Slovak, Serbian, Croatian, and Hungarian form of the Latin name Tibertius (from Tibur, now Tivoli, a resort town near Rome).

Tikhon (Russian) and Tykhon (Ukrainian) are forms of the Greek name Tychon (succeed, hit the mark).

Toligniew may mean “to silence anger” in Polish.

Trajko means “to last” in Macedonian. This name was traditionally given to boys who were born after at least one sibling had died, in the hopes this child would survive and live a long life.

Trofim is the Russian, Serbian, Polish, and Romanian form of the Greek name Trophimos (nutritious, nourishing). A rare Russian, Polish, Italian, and Dutch feminine form is Trofima.

Female:

Taisiya is the Russian and Ukrainian form of the Greek name Thaïs, which possibly means “bandage.”

Tajna means “secret” in Serbian, Macedonian, and Croatian.

Tamina is a Czech name supposedly derived from the word tam (there). This is a character in Parts Four and Six of Milan Kundera’s 1979 novel The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.

Telimena may be a Polish form of the Greek name Philomena via a Belarusian form.

Trifena is a rare Russian and Italian form of the Greek name Tryphena (delicacy, softness).

Troja, Trojana means “three people” in Serbian, denoting the trinity. The male form is Trojan.

Thor-inspired names

Dedicated in loving memory of Peter Tork, né Peter Halsten Thorkelson, 13 February 1942–21 February 2019, whose birth surname inspired this post.

Thor’s Fight with the Giants, Mårten Eskil Winge, 1872

I’ve wanted to do a post on Thor-inspired names for quite some time. Though many might consider the name Thor itself to be pompous and pretentious, there are quite a few other names whose meanings relate to Thor. If you wouldn’t consider the name Thor for a real child, perhaps you’d be more inclined to use one of these names.

Unless otherwise noted, all these names are male.

Thor was the Norse god of thunder, from Old Norse þórr, ultimately from Ancient Germanic *þunraz. The name was #48 in Denmark in 2017. Its modern form is Tor, and the feminine forms are Thora and Tora.

Haldor (Norwegian) means “Thor’s rock,” from Old Norse Hallþórr.

Tollak (Norwegian) means “Thor’s play/game,” from Old Norse þórleikr. The word leikr refers to a game or play involving weapons.

Torbjörn (Swedish) means “Thor’s bear,” from Old Norse þórbjörn. Variants include Torbjørn (Danish, Norwegian); Thorbjørn (Norwegian); Torben (Danish, German); Thornben (German); and þorbjörn (Icelandic).

Torgeir (Norwegian) means “Thor’s spear,” from Old Norse þórgeirr. Variants are Torger and Terje. The latter isn’t to be confused with a female Estonian name meaning “mist.”

Torgny Segerstedt (1876–1945), Swedish scholar of comparative religion, and publicist and editor-in-chief of anti-Nazi newspaper Göteborgs Handels-och Sjöfartstidning

Torgny (Swedish) means “Thor’s noise/murmur/grumble,” from Old Norse þórgnýr.

Torhild (Norwegian, female) means “Thor’s battle,” from Old Norse þórhildr. Variants are Toril and Torill.

Torkel (Swedish, Norwegian) means “Thor’s cauldron,” from Old Norse þórketill. Variants include Tyge (Danish); Tyko (Finnish); Tygo (Dutch); Tycho (Dutch, Danish); Torcuil (Scottish); Torquil (Anglicized Gaelic); and Torkil (Danish, Norwegian).

Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, 1546–1601

Torleif (Norwegian) means “Thor’s descendent,” from Old Norse þórleifr.

Tormod (Norwegian) means “Thor’s mind/mood,”  from Old Norse þórmóðr.

Torsten (Danish, Swedish, German) means “Thor’s stone,” from Old Norse þórsteinn. Variants include Thorsten (Swedish, Danish); Thorstein, Torstein (Norwegian); Torsti (Finnish); and Thurston (English). þorstína and þorsteina (Icelandic) are feminine forms. An elaborated Icelandic feminine form, þórsteinunn, means “Thor’s stone wave.”

Torvald (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish) means “Thor’s ruler,” from Old Norse þórvaldr. Many people may recognize this as the name of the husband in Henrik Ibsen’s famous play A Doll’s House.